A guilty verdict was declared in the case of slain Black teen Zaevion Dobson, who was hailed as a hero by Barack Obama for sacrificing his life to shield his friends from deadly gunfire in 2015. Christopher Drone Bassett, 22, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of the 15-year-old Tennessee high school football player, The Associated Press reported. Kipling Deshawn Colbert, 22, and Richard Gregory Williams III, 23, who faced first-degree murder charges, were instead found guilty of facilitating the murder.
“Today is about justice for Zaevion Dobson and his family,” Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen stated after the verdict.
A sentencing for Bassett, Colbert and Williams is slated for February 2. Bassett may serve an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 51 years, the report said. All defendants were found guilty of several other felonies.
Dobson was tragically killed on December 17, 2015 when 34 shots from at least four different guns were fired in his direction in the Lonsdale neighborhood of Knoxville, Tennessee, prosecutors said. The promising athlete suffered a fatal gunshot wound while he used his body as a human shield to protect two girls, who were not struck. He was on a back porch with friends during the shooting, according to the AP. All three defendants were “criminally responsible because they aided in the commission of the offense,” though only one bullet fatally struck Dobson, prosecutors explained.
The teen was described as a honorable young man who was loving and full of life. “Zaevion is a wonderful example to each and every one of us,” Allen said. “He was a selfless young man who gave his life protecting the lives of his friends. Today is a perfect example of justice being sought exactly where it needs to be sought — in a court of law, not on the streets of our community.”
Dobson’s death became a “nationwide symbol of gun violence and, in Knoxville, of gang violence,” the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. Obama posthumously acknowledged the slain player in his State of the Union address, and a prestigious sports award was given out that honored his courage.